a literary journal published by the Black Earth Institute dedicated to re-forging the links between art and spirit, earth and society
to Naples, Florida where one smart
marketer planted a banyan at the gate.
Clever guy, understanding buyers like us,
the way we arrived hypnotized
by what we wanted, what we didn’t want,
so distractible— just show us
an exotic dragged in from Jakarta
or some Broward County agri-field.
The salesman, close-shaved, piney-smelling:
Nail your deal. God’s not
making any more land, you know.
We knew. We nodded, our eyes
focused on the near view.
The banyan stood among us, a foreigner,
roots forced into the strange taste of Florida,
patient trunk dreaming inside a circle
of own-grown pillars—
a small, Asiatic temple
set to guard our gates from demons.
And then a demon, the one the weather
service decided to call Wilma,
roared out of the Straits of Florida,
stripped the banyan, tore it
from its ground, left its roots draped
with a tangle of powerlines
like spitting, sparking handcuffs.
Walking Wilma’s wreckage, my neighbor
muttered, What waste. so much waste,
and I didn’t ask, What is it you think we’ve wasted?
Besides money and electricity, the time and labor
of forty, silent, sweating Guatemalans,
the gradient that made the storm,
the cambium that grew the tree.
eighteen wheelers were sweeping down I 75,
weighted with royal
palms, tiger palms a whole new grove
of banyan, corralled, strapped down,
bundled and shipped.
I imagine the dying banyans,
their sapwood drenched
with whatever it is a tree
might be dreaming.
Gail DiMaggio’s first book, Woman Prime, was selected by Jericho Brown for the 2018 Permafrost Poetry Prize and published by Alaska University Press. Her second book Ironwork is forthcoming from Variant Literature in October of 2021. Her work has appeared recently in The Ekphrastic Review, The Whiskey Island, and Raw Arts Review where her poem “We Look into Fire” was a runner-up for the Mirabai Prize. Just this month, five poems from her current manuscript took this year’s Passager Poetry Prize. She resides in Concord, NH.